Last month, our director and one of ZooAmerica’s naturalists drove out to Wisconsin to pick up two very special birds. The Raptor Education Group, Inc. gave us two Sandhill Cranes- Ichabod and Peanut. Both of these birds were hand-raised, and therefore unable to survive in the wild. They have been a delight for the zoo staff and we are excited to add them to our collection. The birds have been very calm around us and have adapted well to their new enclosure. These birds could live up to 80 years in captivity, so it’s great for us that they have such wonderful personalities! You will realize we have new animals before you see them, since their loud calls can be heard in every part of the zoo.
Sandhill cranes are the most abundant of the world’s cranes, as well as the oldest known surviving bird species that dates back 10 million years ago. In the wild, sandhill cranes live in the same habitat as whooping cranes- an endangered species. These two species are the only cranes native to North America. It is important to conserve the sandhill cranes’ natural habitat to protect the whooping crane from becoming extinct.
A few fun facts about Sandhill Cranes:
1. Worldwide, there are 15 species in the crane family Gruidae.
2. Crane chicks grow very rapidly up to an inch per day some days, or five feet in three months, depending on the species.
3. Cranes live approximately 20-30 years in the wild and up to 80 years in captivity.
4. Crane chicks are also known as “colts.”
5. Sandhill Cranes are the most abundant of the world’s cranes. They are widely (though intermittently) distributed throughout North America, extending into Cuba and far northeastern Siberia. The three migratory subspecies (Lesser, Greater and Canadian) are distributed across a broad breeding range in the northern U.S. and Canada as well as eastern Siberia, with wintering grounds in the southern United States and northern Mexico. The three non-migratory subspecies (Mississippi, Cuban, and Florida) have restricted ranges in the southern United States and Cuba.